Our story is a sad story with a happy ending. I offer it as a story of hope to those who may be in need. There was a time two and a half years ago when I was that person scouring the internet in search of hope. And I found it in pictures of identical triplets. At that moment I simply wanted visual proof that identical triplets could be born alive. I found what I needed and avoided the internet as much as possible throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, which was suggested by my doctor.
Did you know that you were having triplets? This question holds a permanent spot in our top 10 list of frequently asked questions. I remember the first time this question was asked. I was unsure of how to answer it. Did that person think that I could actually waddle into the hospital at 35 weeks and say, “Um, I think that there’s a problem here. I can’t possibly have only one baby inside of me.” In my case, this happened at 17 weeks instead of 35, which is why I was unsure of how to respond to that question the first few times it was asked. “No. For 17 weeks, I did not know that I was having triplets.”
This pregnancy was considered high risk before I was even pregnant. My first pregnancy, which was supposed to be an average, run-of-the-mill type, ended tragically when my daughter, Abigail, was born sleeping at 40 weeks. The doctors and hospital were unable to determine what exactly caused her death. There was a hint of placenta issues.
My first ultrasound was scheduled for 17 weeks and 4 days. I can honestly say that I suspected that I was pregnant with twins. Each moment of my first pregnancy was fresh in my mind so I knew that my uterus should not have been that high. As I lifted my shirt to expose my entire abdomen for the ultrasound technician, she said, “Oh no, the baby is still down here.” She pointed to my hip area. I turned to Rich and whispered, “Well, who has been kicking me in the ribs.” It was Baby B.
I wish I had some fabulous story where Rich and I laughed and cracked jokes when the technician told us that we were having triplets. She actually did not say anything at all at first which caused me great concern. I was close to panic, begging her to tell me something. She placed the wand aside and asked, “Did you take any fertility drugs?” I looked over at the frozen screen and saw two tiny heads. She then said, “I see three babies.” I immediately started crying while Rich attempted to calm me down. If one baby couldn’t survive inside of me, how could three?
After the technician measured and analyzed each baby, she told us that she was going to look to see how many placentas she could find. I closed my eyes and whispered, “There’s only going to be one.”
The conversations that took place with the doctors after that ultrasound were beyond difficult to understand. I was pregnant with identical triplets and all three shared one placenta. There were very thin membranes separating their amniotic fluid which was a good sign as they could not tangle their umbilical cords.
We were then told that one of the babies had a “birth defect.” Spina bifida. The lower portion of his/her spine had not closed properly and as a result he/she may never walk on his/her own . In addition, there was an accumulation of excess fluid in his/her brain that could not drain properly. When I heard the words “birth defect,” I immediately thought of something life threatening. This, spina bifida, we could deal with. The thought of another baby dying, I didn’t even want to think about.
My doctor was the head “high-risk” obstetrician at a leading Boston hospital. He told us that it had been eleven years since he had had a patient pregnant with spontaneous identical triplets. If there had been a happy ending with those triplets, he did not share it with us. We received a short lesson on placenta sharing and its risks, pre-term labor and all the things that can go wrong during a pregnancy. At the end of the conversation, I was given the option of terminating the entire pregnancy. That wasn’t an option for us and we were told that at 17 weeks and 4 days, we should remain “cautiously optimistic” about the pregnancy.
How far along were you when it was discovered that you were pregnant with multiples? Was it a complete surprise or did you have that feeling?
I’ll be back in two weeks with Part II of How My Three Came to Be!